Wharton senior Jordan Williams first had the idea to write a book about personal growth last December. Seven months later, he published it.
Williams, who is also the co-founder of clothing brand Young Moguls, self-published “Breaking the System: Unlocking Your Limitless Potential” this summer. The book is a guide for readers to find their true passions and to push against societal norms of success while creating change in the world, covering topics such as spirituality, physical health, and mental wellness. Williams said the book reflected his personal growth and was inspired by conversations he had with friends who graduated and were figuring out their paths after college.
"This book is a better representation of where I feel like where I am in my life, where it's more-so about creative work and passion in life than just business and making money,” Williams said. “I feel like these past four years in college I've definitely grown a lot and had to deal with a lot of stuff, a lot of that is in the book.”
Williams also cited the rapper Logic's recent novel "Supermarket," saying that seeing Logic go beyond music to express his creativity gave him inspiration to use writing to express his own thoughts.
This is the third book Williams has authored — in 2016, he wrote “The Team-preneur Marketing Guide” and co-authored “Who Needs An Allowance” with Young Moguls co-founder Brandon Iverson, a senior at Georgetown. While these two books draw on Williams and Iverson's experiences developing their clothing line, Williams said, "Breaking the System" focuses more on personal growth.
“These are certain things we’ve talked about before as friends, especially in particular how it’s easy that kids our age just feel like you’re kind of caught in the system,” said Wharton senior Jammil Telfort, a friend of Williams. “That’s something I can tell he thinks about a lot and has bothered him for sure. He’s supportive of people trying to make their own path and trying to get their own happiness.”
While Williams included expert insights from his father, an Atlanta entrepreneur, and former Wharton undergraduate vice dean Lori Rosenkopf in the book, he said he mostly focused it on his own thoughts and experiences.
“I did it that way purposefully without looking at other people because I didn’t want it to be influenced what other people thought," Williams said. "I wanted this to genuinely be something that was hopefully new ideas from my own perspective that people my age can relate to."
Williams said he thought of the idea for the book in December 2018 and started writing in January, setting aside time to work on the book every night and weekend. He said the hardest part of the process came once he finished writing when he had to find an editor and gather funds to copyright and print the book.
Williams’ work-study advisor Susan McMullen, director of alumni and student engagement in Wharton's Jay H. Baker Retailing Center, described him as a "driving force" and a "quiet leader" on campus.
“He spends a lot of time not just doing schoolwork or doing the time at Penn, but he’s looking on campus for opportunities where he can contribute," she said. "He puts passion into the things he does."
Looking ahead, Williams said he hopes to tie-in his book with Young Moguls, potentially releasing a new line of sweaters with phrases that complement the themes of the book. He also hopes to write and produce a short film or film series based on his novel.
“He’s just a really humble, accomplished student not out for notoriety or praise," McMullen said. "He’s just following his passion, doing things he’s passionate about, what he feels strongly about. And I think he’s going to be extremely successful."